E-governance: digitally empowering citizens

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Suuresh Ramachandran
Founder, CEO & CCO
EYE-Q FILMS : Integrated Media House

We, in the field of electronic media, have been hearing the words ‘Digital’, ‘Digitalisation’, and its variants for the longest time. Digital technology has completely changed how people once used to work and operate in the fields of films, television, media and entertainment.

However, what is truly transformational is e-Governance.

We are fortunate to be living in a glorious time when a revolution of this sort is unfolding before us. This is leading to the emergence of a new Digital India.

We are beginning to see the impact of digitalisation and electronic governance, beginning with the computerisation of government departments and followed by a shift towards online payments, online processes.

From my interactions with the man on the street, I know for a fact that people are easily adapting online processes, mobile payments, etc, which is a good sign for a digital future. Our own office renewals were recently done without needing to visit the office concerned, solely on the basis of the Aadhar authentication.

To put this in context, the National e-governance Plan (NeGP) was conceptualised to focus on e-Governance initiatives at the national level with an aim to make all government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets, and ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realise the basic needs of the common man.

In a nutshell, with e-Governance and a cradle-to- grave digital identity, much of India’s population will have access to the internet and with the massive explosion of knowledge and information, corruption will be reduced to a minimum level. With government benefits reaching the beneficiaries directly, millions of people lining up every day at thousands of bank counters throughout the country will come to an end.

With the adoption of e-Governance, forms will be simplified and only minimum information will be collected. Application processes will be online and there will be a procedure to track the applications. Online repositories, like the cloud, will be used to store and transfer forms and people will not be asked to furnish physical copies.

However, these concepts are still at a very nascent stage and, therefore, our primary attempt must be to understand what is meant e- Governance, digitalisation, and then we should implicitly understand how fundamentally our lives are going to change for the better.

It is understood that to proceed towards ‘Digital India’, there are nine pillars of growth areas that need to be developed. These include broadband highways, universal access to mobile connectivity, public internet access programme, e-Goverance initiatives reforming the governance process through technology, e-Kranti that refers to electronic delivery of services, information for all, electronics manufacturing, IT for creating jobs and early harvest programmes.

This is how Wikipedia defines e-governance:

“Electronic governance or e-Governance is the application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for delivering government services, exchange of information, communication transactions, integration of various standalone systems and services between government-to- customer (G2C), government-to- business (G2B), government-to- government (G2G) as well as back-office processes and interactions within the entire government framework.”

It is envisaged that 2,50,000 gram panchayats in the country will be covered under the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN), bringing the benefits of broadband internet within reach of millions of people living in rural areas of the country.

National Information Infrastructure is proposed to integrate the network and cloud infrastructure in the country to provide high speed connectivity and cloud platform to various government departments up to the panchayat level.

A total of 150,000 post offices are proposed to be converted to multi- service centres. Post offices, therefore, will be among the most important nodal points in the implementation of e-Governance.

e-Kranti refers to the govt’s insistence to ‘transforming governance’ towards achieving e-goverance. This implies that the difference between ‘governance’ and e-governance’ will be revolutionary, and not cosmetic. is a platform whereby citizens can interact with government departments on a regular basis to provide feedback and suggestions.

In the area of electronics manufacturing, the government has decided to target ‘net zero’ imports by 2020 and produce all electronic requirements indigenously.

The government is creating opportunities to train youth for emerging IT / ITES jobs. It envisages to train nearly one crore youth to get employment in the IT/ITES sector. Training will be provided to students in small town and villages and in the northeastern states. Business Process Outsourcing companies are proposed to be setup in northeastern states.

‘Early Harvest Programme’ refers to those initiatives which have to be implemented with a short deadline. These are, It platform for messages, govt greetings to be e-greetings, biometric attendance, Wi-fi in all universities, secure email within government, standardise government email design, public wi-fi hotspots, school books to be e- books, SMS based weather information and disaster alerts, national portal for lost and found children.

Now that we are familiar with the context or framework of e- Governance, we must take a look at the digital programmes, which are radically transforming our lives.

Digital initiatives:

Public Financial Management System (PFMS), Project Management System (PMIS), Pradhan Mantri Kaushal VikasYojana (PMKVY), Pradhan mantra Jan DhanYojana(PMJDY), Pradhan MantriGramin Digital SakshartaAbhiyan, Paygov India, Passport Seva Project (PSP), Parivahan Portal, Pahal (DBT), Open Forge, Open Govt Data (OGD), Online Labs (OLABS), NREGA SOFT, North East BPO Promotion Scheme (NEBPS), Nirbhaya App, Nikshay, National Voters Service Portal (NVSP), National Ujala Dashboard, National Super Computing Mission (NSM), National Scholarship Portal (NSP), National Mission on Education using ICT, National Knowledge Network (NKN), National Career Service Portal, MyGov, Mraktakposh, Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS), etc.

With the above information, we have a reasonable idea of the expanse, scope and reach of the e-Governance and digitalisation plan of the Indian government. As someone with a background of NGO-work in the villages in Rajasthan, I can sense that lives are going to changed beyond our wildest dreams.

Needless to say, this will be transformational. Sure there will be challenges because literacy is still a problem in large parts of the country. Technology itself will pose some challenges, being unpredictable and fraught with practical problems. However, these will just be teething problems and Bharat is set for a glorious future with this comprehensive plan to meet the new digital reality in governance.

From the above, we have a very clear idea how our lives are going to be impacted in the years to come, poverty will be alleviated and Bharat will take its place as a leader among nations.

Authored by: Suuresh Ramachandran Founder, CEO & CCO EYE-Q FILMS : Integrated Media House


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